Skip to Content

Can You Pair An iPad With An Apple Watch?

The Apple Watch doesn’t work like most other smartwatches, and buyers often ask, can you pair the Apple Watch with an iPad at all?

The Apple Watch cannot pair with an iPad. The Apple Watch doesn’t pair using standard Bluetooth settings like other smartwatches. It uses an app that is only available for the iPhone and not for the iPad. The Fitness app on the iPad can sync data from the Apple Watch, but that’s its only use.

The fact is that, like most Apple products, the Apple Watch is not like other smartwatches, whether you agree with that fact or not. Apple has never tried to recreate “what the others are doing” but is known for implementing technology in any way it sees fit. Let’s look at why the Apple Watch is incompatible with the iPad and how you can use the Apple Watch with the best results.

Why You Can’t Pair An iPad With An Apple Watch

Whenever they find out that the Apple Watch can only pair with an iPhone, many people (especially Apple haters) often jump to the conclusion that Apple is doing this to be exclusive or sell more iPhones. Let’s be honest; Apple is a business and, as such, would like to be exclusive and sell more iPhones, but there are more logical reasons for not making the Apple Watch more “open.”

The Apple Watch Was Designed As An iPhone Companion

Apple never intended the Apple Watch to be an independent computer. People who have never owned a smartwatch often have this romantic, science fiction-inspired view of wearing their computer on their wrist. This is not what a smartwatch is; at least, not yet. Getting a smartwatch can be a bit underwhelming to those with unrealistic expectations.

The true purpose of the Apple Watch was to be a companion to the iPhone. It should be an extension of the iPhone’s capabilities as a general communications device. That’s why the Apple Watch can give you your notifications, allow you to reply to messages, make and receive calls, and access your calendar and to-do list. 

These are all primary functions of the iPhone, while they are secondary aspects of an iPad. The iPhone is primarily a communications device with some productivity features. The iPad is a productivity tool with some optional communications features. There is very little practical use for an Apple Watch within the context of an iPad’s primary focus, at least for now.

The Apple Watch Constantly Feeds Back Information

As a fitness tracker (which many people see the Apple Watch to be primarily), the Apple Watch needs to feed information back to the app that monitors your health and fitness, which is Apple’s Health app on the iPhone. 

Apple found that it is more efficient to broadcast that information live rather than one big data dump transferred at the end of the day. This makes sense since a sudden spike in your heart rate at 10 AM wouldn’t matter anymore if the data were only synced to your iPhone at 8 PM. 

This constant trickle of data from the Apple Watch requires a device that can be carried around with you, constantly connected to the Apple Watch. Some people carry their iPads around like that, and some even prefer to use their iPads over smartphones. But these cases are isolated, and more people prefer to carry around a smartphone rather than a tablet.

This makes the iPhone the perfect device to pair with an Apple Watch.

The Fitness App – Linking The Apple Watch And iPad

Pairing options for the Apple Watch are limited based on the availability of Apple’s Watch app, which is only available for the iPhone. However, one app that makes extensive use of the Apple Watch that is also available on the iPad is Apple’s Fitness app.

The Fitness app is often available on your iPhone when you successfully pair it with an Apple Watch in countries that support it. But the app is also available on a range of other Apple devices, including iPads running iOS 11 or later, which includes:

  • All versions of the iPad Pro
  • iPad Air and iPad Air 2
  • iPad, from the 4th Generation
  • iPad Mini 2, 3, and 4

Connecting The Fitness App On My iPad With My Apple Watch

The Fitness app on your iPad can link with your Apple Watch, while your iPad itself cannot do so because the Fitness app doesn’t use Bluetooth pairing or the Watch app. The Fitness app uses a system that is better for long-range communication since it syncs data with your Apple Watch through your Apple ID.

If you signed in to your iPad with the same Apple ID that you used to configure your Apple Watch, the Watch and the Fitness app on your iPad should communicate automatically. You can simply open your Fitness app and select “Workout with Watch.” Your exercises, heart rate, steps, and other information will be synced between your Apple Watch and the Fitness app.

What If The Apple Watch Isn’t Communicating With The Fitness App?

Communication problems between the two devices could always happen, and there are numerous possible causes of these communication problems. Some of these are pretty easy to check and resolve:

  1. Confirm that both Bluetooth and WiFi are enabled on both your iPad and your Apple Watch. It sounds pointless to check Bluetooth since the two devices aren’t paired in the traditional sense of the word. Still, Apple systems use Bluetooth extensively to communicate between devices, even if they are not truly paired, so it must be switched on on both of the devices.
  1. Restart both the iPad and the Apple Watch. The age-old computer advice of “turning it off and on again” is still just as accurate today as it was decades ago. A simple restart on any device can clear up a multitude of problems that could be preventing the Apple Watch and iPad from connecting to one another.
  1. If the first two steps didn’t resolve the issue, you could try removing and re-connecting the Apple Watch from your account. Using the Watch app installed on your iPhone, select “All Watches,” then tap on the “I” next to the watch you are using. Then select “Unpair Apple Watch.” After unpairing the watch, uninstall the Fitness app from your iPhone and iPad.

Now go back into the Watch app and pair the watch with your iPhone again. After this, your Apple Watch should communicate with your Fitness app on both your iPhone and iPad flawlessly again.

  1. If this still fails, there might be a hardware or account syncing problem somewhere. At this point, it’s best to contact Apple’s support department or take your devices to the Apple Store to get it resolved.

What If You Don’t Own An iPhone To Pair Your Apple Watch With?

Unfortunately, you will have very little use for an Apple Watch without an iPhone. You can use an Apple Watch without actively carrying an iPhone with you. Still, it will be severely limited in capabilities, with only basic time-keeping functions until you bring it close to your iPhone again. The watch will still gather steps and health data, but it will only sync these when close to your iPhone.

Apart from this, you even need an iPhone to set up your Apple Watch. Without an iPhone to configure it, it’s not even a watch; it’s just expensive jewelry.

What About An Android Phone?

This is one arena where Apple is getting a lot of flack from consumers. Most other manufacturers’ smartwatches are compatible with other phones as well. For example, most of Samsung’s Gear smartwatches will work on an iPhone if you download the Gear app. Some of their functionality is limited to Android, but you can use most smartwatch functions effectively.

Unfortunately, this is not true of the Apple Watch. The Watch app is necessary for activating, configuring, and using the Apple Watch. Whereas Samsung’s Gear app is available on Apple’s App Store, Apple’s Watch app is only available on iPhones. No other devices are supported by the Apple Watch at all.

If you don’t have an iPhone at all, but you have an Apple Watch that you would like to use (perhaps one that you received as a gift), it’s recommended that you get an iPhone, even if it’s an older second-hand model.

The Watch app comes pre-loaded on all iOS versions from iOS 10, but for a new Apple Watch, it is recommended that you use at least an iPhone 6S or any other iPhone with iOS 15 or newer. This will ensure that the latest versions of Watch OS are all supported and that you can make full use of your Apple Watch.

This way, you can use your Android phone as your general use phone. You don’t even need to get a SIM card or mobile plan for your iPhone; you can use it on WiFi only, as long as Bluetooth allows it to connect with your Apple Watch and sync data. This will give you complete control and use of your Apple Watch.


The Apple Watch is a brilliant piece of technology, even if it’s not all that the science fiction movies promised us. If you use it correctly, paired with the right iPhone, you will find it hard to imagine life without it. But you must remember what it’s made for, which is to be a companion device to your iPhone. When used like that, it will give you years of excellent service.